IRL: Homestead Test: Fernandez Racing summary

Matsuura Getting Up to Speed in Initial IRL IndyCar® Series Open Test Two-Day Outing a Series of Firsts for Rookie Challenger HOMESTEAD, Fla. (January 29, 2004) -- Kosuke Matsuura turned his first laps with the 2004 IRL IndyCar Series field at...

Matsuura Getting Up to Speed in Initial IRL IndyCar® Series Open Test Two-Day Outing a Series of Firsts for Rookie Challenger

HOMESTEAD, Fla. (January 29, 2004) -- Kosuke Matsuura turned his first laps with the 2004 IRL IndyCar Series field at Homestead-Miami Speedway this week, beginning his learning curve aboard the #55 Panasonic ARTA Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone in a two-day IRL Open Test which concluded today.

"This was my first time driving at Homestead-Miami Speedway and also my first time in the Panoz G Force so everything was new to me," said Matsuura, who turned his debut laps on an oval and in an IRL IndyCar Series car at Phoenix International Raceway on November 12.

"I was really able to enjoy driving the new car for the first time today," noted Matsuura. "I enjoyed feeling the effects of the different changes to the car, and I was able to learn what I need to do to improve. My time is still not so good but I know what I was doing wrong and what to improve. All in all, it was a great day for me and I'm looking forward to the next test in Phoenix."

Matsuura, 24, from Aichi, Japan, has spent the past three years competing in Europe, finishing second in the 2002 German Formula 3 Championship and third in the Formula Renault V6 Eurocup last season. He will be vying for Bombardier Rookie of the Year honors in IndyCar Series competition this year.

"This has been a great start to the new season," commented Managing Director Tom Anderson. "Qualifying lap times were not our objectives at this test. The weather provided the perfect conditions for testing, and Kosuke performed quite well. We ran over 300 laps in total, learning the new systems and the new high-banked Homestead race track. Honda has done a very good job over the winter and I am very pleased with their progress. Firestone has done a great job with their tire package here on the new surface, and we had no problems running over 50 laps on each set. We are on schedule with our program and extremely happy with the progress.

"One thing that we learned during the test is that there are large differences between the Dallara and G Force chassis in the standard delivered form. Some of the G Force cars were experimenting with different aerodynamic pieces and, as the chassis manufacturers do not have to declare their aerodynamic packages until the race weekend, it was obvious G Force has been doing a lot of testing with the Target cars and there looked to be a benefit over the package that we and [Team] Rahal had. Kosuke ran as quick as the experienced Buddy Rice [Team Rahal] so I am very pleased. My biggest concern is the G Force chassis right now, and what can be done before the Homestead race."

The 1.5-mile oval saw 18 cars take to the track in the first official IRL Open Test of the new year. The circuit, which will host the first round of IndyCar Series competition on February 29, was repaved in the fall and revamped to include variable banking of 18 degrees on the bottom, 19 degrees in the middle and 20 degrees at the top with the addition of the SAFER Barrier in the corners.

"I think we had a pretty good day considering the fact that it was his first time driving the new car," commented Co-Owner Aguri Suzuki, who returned to Japan this morning after being trackside for Matsuura's initial practice day. "I was just expecting him to get used to the car, but he was able to run at full speed in the end so I am very satisfied with today's test."

Matsuura posted a best lap of 25.2401 seconds (211.806 mph). Alex Barron set the mark to beat in the last practice session, with a best overall lap of 24.4536 seconds (218.618 mph).

Super Aguri Fernandez Racing will continue its pre-season preparations on February 11 and 12 in the IRL Open Test at Phoenix International Raceway, Ariz.

-safr-

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Alex Barron , Buddy Rice , Tom Anderson , Kosuke Matsuura , Aguri Suzuki